One Place In North Dakota Where Oil Isn’t Booming Is Federal Lands


Here’s an interesting headline from the Minot Daily News which highlights the problems with the Obama administrations leadership (or, more accurately, lack thereof) in domestic energy production. While oil production is booming on private and tribal lands in the oil patch, on lands managed by the federal government oil development is basically at a standstill.

The State of North Dakota, along with several counties, are actually suing the federal government over access to these areas. The counties, and the state, believe they have the right to build roads in these areas to facilitate oil development. The federal government is blocking the progress.

Back during the presidential campaign, energy production on federal lands was a major point of contention between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Obama claimed that domestic energy production is up under his administration, and while that’s true, the truth is domestic energy production is up because of drilling and mining on private lands. On federal lands, fossil fuel production is down…

…and permitting times are up:

Obama says he supports an “all of the above” energy strategy, but the reality of his policies both here in North Dakota and nationally put lie to that claim.

Remember, Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp promised she’d take on President Obama and her policy on these issues. It will be interesting to see if that actually happens. So far – and, admittedly, it’s early – she hasn’t.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Captornado

    Rubber Stamp Heitkamp. Kinda has a ring to it doesn’t it!

  • Dakotacyr

    Oh puleeze, the oil companies aren’t even drilling on all the federal lands they have leased now. They aren’t drilling on all the private land they have leased. They can’t get enough drilling rigs or workers for all the leases they have already.

    Give me a break!

    • Rob

      You really have no idea how the industry handles this, do you?

      Of course they don’t drill every piece of land they lease. Not all land turns out to have oil in quantities that’s marketable.

      It’s not a question of whether or not they use it. Oil companies aren’t in the habit of not pumping oil and making a profit. If they get access to the land, they’ll develop it.

      They want access. Why not allow the access, other than if you’re a liberal obstructionist who hates fossil fuels?

      • oilman

        “Of course they don’t drill every piece of land they lease. Not all land turns out to have oil in quantities that’s marketable.”

        ~In the bakken, SW McKenzie co (federal grasslands) is outside of the core thermal maturity area. However, the area has good wells which are economically viable- the term you were looking for. The geology of shale changes in that area, not the “quantities of oil”. We have not had enough wildcatting in that area to understand what techniques work- because of FED restrictions.

        “If they get access to the land, they’ll develop it.”

        ~Not necessarily. They must hold it by production in less in 3 or 5 year terms from the date which the operator acquired the acres. Many operators such as American oil and gas, Anschutz and Tracker rushed into the Bakken knowing damn well they had not the resources to develop the huge chunks they acquired before the leases expired. They were fishing to hold core acreage and get bought out…and it worked. Acreage flippers if you will.

        Rob, many of us agree on the main premise you put forth. However, you are not the expert you portray yourself to be, clearly.

        The problems Dakotacyr stated were true to an extent prior to mid 2012. The constraints now are overextended capital budgets and revolving credit lines contracting slightly.

      • dakotacyr

        what you don’t understand is that the oil companies have sat on federal leases for years and have not developed the oil resources. It’s not a matter of hating fossil fuels. Your problem is you don’t care one whit abut our natural resources and protecting some of the land for future generations.

        You don’t care what our country looks like as long as the oil companies get to do what they want when they want.

        And I do know how oil companies handle this. I have done oil leases before and I see that you haven’t which is apparent from your posts. you just tow the oil company line no matter what.

  • Onslaught1066

    Might be a good place to start an algae farm.

  • Jordan W Green

    With oil production reaching record levels and the limiting factor being labor, time, and materials instead of land, why not keep the national grasslands well free- notice they only aren’t drilling on the surface- they are horizontally drilling to access oil under federal land where they own mineral rights. I love oil, and the windfall from it, as much as the next guy, but what’s wrong with tapping these pockets with horizontal drilling?

    • Rob

      Nothing is wrong, other than the fact that not all of these areas can be reached that way.